Many cat lovers with cat allergies would be willing to pay top dollar for a truly hypoallergenic cat, so when a biotech company called Allerca announced in 2006 that it had developed such a breed, prospective owners forked over thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars to get one. But now an investigative report by ABC’s “The Lookout” has shown that Allerca’s claims about hypoallergenic cats appear to be a lot of unsubstantiated hype.
A protein known as Fel d 1, found in cats’ saliva, is what causes allergies to cats. Simon Brodie, the founder of Allerca (now known as Lifestyle Pets) claims that the cats he developed still produce Fel d 1, but at a different molecular weight that does not trigger allergies. However, customers who bought Allerca’s cats say that claim is false, that they still suffered from their allergies. Some owners have even been forced to give away their expensive Allerca cats because their allergies to the cats were so bad.
“The Lookout” gave hair samples from Allerca cats to Indoor Biotechnologies, an immunodiagnostics and biotechnology company specializing in allergy, asthma and indoor air quality. The company’s tests showed no detectable differences in the Fel d 1 from Allerca cats, concluding that they were no more hypoallergenic than any other everyday house cat.
The investigative team from “The Lookout” confronted Brodie with their findings. Brodie defended his company, saying he has sold hundreds of cats to satisfied customers. He also provided a DNA report to back up his claims. However, “The Lookout” brought that report and other tests displayed on the Allerca website to the scientists who ran the tests, and the scientists claimed that the test results did not actually support Brodie’s claims that his cats are hypoallergenic.
Given the dubiousness of Allerca’s claims, potential customers will need to decide for themselves whether it’s worth spending the money on one of the company’s supposedly hypoallergenic cats.